The recent announcement by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, that a £350 million investment has been secured for a Belfast Region City Deal is great news for the entire region.
The announcement forms part of a £850 million co-investment package which will create up to 20,000 new and better jobs alongside delivering a 10-year programme of inclusive economic growth.
This success reflects the enormous amount of strategic thinking and sheer hard work that has gone into developing our City Deal Bid. It has been an example of a highly effective partnership approach involving the six Councils, Higher Education, Further Education, industry and other public sector organisations – a great example of team work focused on regional economic growth. Our focus now turns to delivering the City Deal!
It is also important to highlight the huge amount of work from staff at Queen’s. I would like to sincerely thank all those from across the University who have been involved in helping to secure this successful outcome as their input was absolutely key to the outcome.
Following the Budget announcement, I met the Secretary of State Karen Bradley MP, along with our other City Deal partners, to discuss future plans. We expect to sign a Heads of Terms document in the next few weeks which will allow full business plans to be prepared for the proposed projects and for the release of the investment.
The opportunities presented through the City Deal recognise the crucial role universities play as economic engines, and the specific impact of our own university has been highlighted in a recently commissioned report conducted by London Economics. The independent report, which looked at our impact in the 2015-16, found that Queen’s contributed £1.9 billion to the UK economy. Other highlights included: our research impact which showed that for every £1 million invested in research activity at Queen’s, an additional £3.9 million is generated across the UK economy; and our teaching and learning impact which generates over £400 million in tax income for the Exchequer and £400 million in earnings for our graduates.
Our economic impact is significant and it is important that we communicate that message to all our key stakeholders. A summary sheet has been developed to help us articulate the key messages from the Report. It is available here.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been engaging with staff and students on a range of topics. As a follow-up to our October Staff Forum, I hosted a Senior Managers Workshop to further discuss and get their ideas on how we can revise our Appraisal Scheme. I have also held the first two of my regular meetings with staff, engaging with both the Medical Expansion Working Group and with our SWAN Champions from across the University. Queen’s has an outstanding track record of achievement in Athena SWAN and I want to acknowledge and thank all staff involved for their effort and commitment in this area and hope that we can continue to build on this success in years to come.
The Students’ Union Executive Team recently attended a meeting of the University Executive Board to share their strategic priorities for this academic year and to discuss areas in which we can work on together, including mental health, student voice, internationalisation and student engagement. I also had the opportunity to meet with the first students from our Pathway Opportunity Programme to take up a place at Queen’s. Twelve students from the Programme, which offers a unique entry to Queen’s to under-represented groups, joined the University in September 2018 to study Computer Science; Electrical Engineering; Law; Food; and Biological Sciences. I wish them every success in their studies.
Later this month, I will travel to China to visit the China Medical University - the Queen's University of Belfast Joint College (CQC) in Shenyang and attend the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research (UCEER) Presidents’ Forum in Nanjing. Queen’s is the lead partner in this consortium and I look forward to meeting representatives from our UK and Chinese collaborators with a view to supporting and developing our international partnerships.
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